Ukraine Makes Plea To Airlines Around The World To Lease Their Planes, Employ Their Crew

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has gone badly for Vladimir Putin. What was expected to be a successful invasion in a matter of days has gone on for more than three weeks. Russia has failed to achieve air superiority and its army appears more of a paper tiger. Despite this aggression, Europe likely has less of a reason to fear Russia than they did at the start of the year. It’s their nuclear weapons that keeps the rest of the world from shutting this down.

In the meantime, as the Ukranians struggle to fend off Russian advances, aggressor forces have become increasingly desperate and brutal.

By some estimates, with normal life in Ukraine – especially more economically significant Eastern part of the country – grinding to a halt, GDP is by some estimates down by a third. Against this backdrop, Ukraine International Airlines is promoting an opportunity to keep itself afloat and its employees working – and in safety.

The nation’s flag carrier, based at Boryspil International Airport, is marketing ‘wet leases’ of its grounded fleet. That means they’re working to have airlines around the world pay them to use their aircraft staffed by Ukraine International Airlines crew. According to the airline,

UIA now has the opportunity to offer airlines and partners to join the economic support of Ukraine, taking advantage of the availability of UIA aircraft for charter and humanitarian flights outside Ukraine and concluding “wet leasing” agreements.

Currently Ukraine International Airlines flights are officially grounded through April 15, 2022 but the continuation of fighting makes it likely that a more extended grounding will be required – and that the airline will not immediately be able to resume full operations once it does re-commence commercial service.

The airline’s fleet consists of 16 Boeing 737s (12 -800s and 4 -900ERs) and 2 Boeing 767-300ERs as well as 5 Embraer 190s and 2 Embraer 195s.

Despite a lack of aircraft and even insufficient flight attendants and pilots, U.S. carriers will generally not be able to take advantage of this opportunity due to union contracts (‘scope clauses’) which limit the operation of flights by employees outside of their unions. These restrictions should be suspended during the Ukraine emergency for national security reasons.

“Yes, Ukraine was beautiful. But now it will become great.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Good thinking on the part of UIA. Not being in the business, I am not sure if this is a ‘normal’ or ‘obvious’ request (as if anything nowadays is ‘normal’), but it seems like an ingenious idea! I think it will be interesting to see if the offer is picked up by other carriers — and what/if the unions may have to say about it. I fully recognize that it may be a touchy subject for the unions.

  2. Seriously, I’d pay extra to fly them — I bet you’ll get better service than AA. And be appreciated.

  3. America loves destroyed countries. The defense contractors get paid billions for weapons and to service the war, and then the US government spends billions to “rebuild” what they just destroyed. All while American infrastructure crumbles. Ukraine is just a way for corrupt US government officials and lobbyists to get paid. Repubs and dems both to blame. Ukraine just collateral damage for them.

  4. It should be noted that they will not do business with any airline still operating to Russia.

  5. Problem with this might be with planes that are stranded in Ukraine, how to get them out of the country without being shot down!

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